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4. Eysenck Type Personality Test
5a. The Ten Rorchach Cards

5. Rorschach's Inkblot Test

It is important to make clear that an ink blot test is not a creativity test. It is a test, designed to expose the test subjects' deepest secrets, they hardly even know they have.

Test persons, who takes it from the humorous side and provides amusing but less relevant responses, will run a great risk of being characterized as psychiatric misfits in a report that can folow them for life.

This ink blot can resemble a map of Norway
This ink blot can resemble a map of Norway.

One can not "win" in an ink blot test. The mere fact that a person has been subjected to a psychiatric test that would create a suspicion around him, which can not be shaken off. Nor should we imagine that we can pass such a test and then only receive a stamp that says "normal". One can only try to limit the damage.

MMPI and ink blot tests are developed in psychiatric hospitals, and they are basically designed to find the mental deviations, which the patients suffer from, so that doctors can diagnose and prescribe a treatment for the poor people, who are hospitalized there.

An ink blot of unknown origin - it looks like a Rorschach card
An ink blot of unknown origin - it looks like a Rorschach card.

We submit to Starke Hathaway's and Hermann Rorschach's genius. We recognize that their tests have been created for man's best.

But however, MMPI and ink blot test are designed to be used on the unfortunate people on whom doctors already have reason to believe that they have a mental disorder, only they do not know which one. However when the tests are carried out from the hospitals and used on normal people, they will still find depressions, psychopath deviations, scizofrenia and mania everywhere: it's what they are designed for.

So no matter how cleverly you try to avoid the traps of the tests, then they will find something, you have said or written, and interpret it as an indication of potential mental disorders. One can think that - well - you also have something to offer - you've also a lot of good qualities. But these tests do not measure the good qualities, it is only designed to find bad qualities.

The ink blots, you see in lexicon and magasins are most often not the real Rorschach ink blots. They are expected to be kept secret and have been protected by copyright. Only psychologists have been presumed to have prior knowledge.

The original ink blot test is the Rorschach test, which was developed by the Swiss Herman Rorschach in 1921. The test consists of ten images, apparently random ink blots, but however, painted by Rorschach himself, who besides being a psychologist, also was a dazzling art painter. American John E. Exner organized the interpretations of the patients' responses in his "Comprehensive System".

Hermann Rorschach 1884 - 1922
Hermann Rorschach 1884 - 1923.

Hermann Rorschach died already in 1923. Since it is more than 70 years ago, the artist died, the images are now "public domain" in the EU; They can be found on many sites on the Internet. Books and manuals that describe standardized interpretations of test-person's responses are today freely for sale to anyone, who will buy. Rorschach Ink blot test is no longer exclusive knowledge of psychologists and will undoubtedly soon have outlived its role as one of the psychologist's favorite personality tests.

However, it had got a successor, namely the Holtzman Ink Blot Test, which consists of 45 alternate pairs of ink blots, which have been selected from a collection of thousands of ink blots. The Holzman test is intended to be as a further development of the Rorchach test dealing with many of its weaknesses. Until now, the psychologists have kept their cards close to their chest on this test.

But as the Holzman test is a child of the Rorschach test, one must logically assume that if a person has a good knowledge of scoring practices of Rorschach test, so he also has a good chance to escape relatively unscathed through a Holzman test.

Test Behaviour

Rorschach test from 1921 consists of 10 images, supposed to be random ink blots. They are pictured on cards made of stiff cardboard. They are about 16 times 22 cm.

An inkblot test
An inkblot test.

During testing, the psychologist will usually sit diagonally behind the test subject so that he can not see the psychologist and the ink blot cards at the same time. Basically, everything, the test person says and does, will be noted and interpreted.

The test subject will be presented with the cards one by one in a prior established order with the "right" edge upwards.

It will be perceived positively to respond in phrases like: "This could be -" or "This looks like -". The test person is expected to could realize that this is just some ink blots on a piece of cardboard. If he responds: "This is -", it will not beneficial for him.

On the other hand it would not be good for the test person to say "This is an ink blot on a piece of cardboard." Psychologists have no humour, when it is about their test.

If the test person is unable to see anything on a card, psychologists think that it suggests a possible neurosis.

If the test-person holds the card in front of him with an angle other than horizontal or vertical or he covers part of the picture with the hand, signs, groans or makes other incomprehensible sounds, it will not be in his favor. All this can be interpreted as signs of brain damage, according to some interpretation tables. It has great importance how the test person expresses himself, it's not good to use strange, unusual words and expression.

The subject is expected by himself to figure out how to rotate the card and seek interpretations from different angles, it means turning it 90 or 180 degrees. He can probably see shapes formed by both the black and the colored areas and the white areas, which they enclose.

When you are reading randomly in the extensive literature on the Rorschach test, it is striking that female test-makers seem to be considered more sympathetic than male. Maybe because most psychologists are men, many of women's less fortunate responses are ascribed to the traumatic situation of they as oppressed women find themselves in. The men, however, mainly get their diagnosis without mercy.

Another ink blot with a little face in the center
Another ink blot with a little face in the center - it's important not to focus on the face.

Hence one can conclude that the test is somewhat subjective. Despite all the Exner system's exact calculations, index and ratios it nevertheless depends on a large amount of psychological assessment.

Just as the situation in modern football. The rules of the game are very unambiguous and accurate, but many matches are still decided by some referee's judgement that can be discussed afterwards. He sends a key player out in an early stage of the match, fails to whistle for a possible penalty and so on.

Therefore we must face that it may be essential, so to speak to do a good sales job. One should seek to create a positive atmosphere in relation to the psychologist and his possible assistants in a way that does not attract attention. You can ask for his business, his training and experience and give him time to talk about it. You can talk about traffic or weather. It is important to show a positive attitude to the test.

Respons Time

The psychologist will note, how quickly the test person responds, Most likely from a tape recording. If he answers too slowly, it is not good for him. A long response time will indicate depression. Especially if he, after long reflection gives less meaningful answers, he will be judged down.

A response time something like 20 seconds is very common.

Number of Responses

The average number of responses is 23, i.e. 2-3 each card. If a test subject gives fewer than 14 responses, the test is invalid and should be discarded. Few responses can be attributed to low IQ, paranoia or depression. It is said that Psychotic patients often see violence, deaths and disasters in the ink blots, which they naturally do not want to say, precisely because they fear to be labeled psychotic, and therefore they can have a few responses. A reason for few responses can also be that the test person has an oppositional attitude to the test, he's really not happy to participate in this kind of test.

Many responses may indicate creativity, but also mania.

Real Responses

It will be a test subject's advantage to interpret the ink blots as real and obvious as possible and thereby convince the psychologist that he is completely normal.

An ink blot that looks like the sun, a paddle wheel or a cell under a microscope
An ink blot that looks like the sun, a paddle wheel or a cell under a microscope.

The test person is expected to be able to make probable, what he thinks the blots can imagine. If for example he says, he sees a face in one of the blots, he expected to point out, for example, eyes, mouth and outline of the face. If the psychologist does not believe that the test subject's explanation fits with the picture, he may think that it indicates schizophrenia or psykotism; i.e. the test person sees something that does not exist, or knowingly telling something that he does not see.

This stands in contrast to, for example the TAT test, where the test person is asked to tell a story that nominally is fiction, without being classified as mentally deviant for this reason.

Serious and obvious responses will be in the test-person's best interest.

For example, this blot looks like the sun; children often draw the sun like this. Or that it resembles a cell photographed under a microscope. However if it is stated that it is a cancer cell, it would indicate a dark and pessimistic side of personality.

Examples from the animal and plant world are neutral. The blot can be a jellyfish or a starfish. Or it may be a paddlewheel from a paddle steamer, a rotor for a pump or a fan.

Negative and Positive Responses

An ink blot, resembling a creature from outer space An ink blot, resembling a creature from outer space.

Negative responses are especially those, which contain fight and conflict, weapons, blood, death and destruction, and threatening and attacking monsters and dangerous animals.

If a test person sees avenging spirits from the past or monsters from the Aliens films, it will be recorded as negative responses, even it can be made probable from the form of the ink blot.

Positive responses include those that describe something that is alive and not dead, something praising life, child faces, flowers, cute animals, female figures, dancing couples and so on.

Two fighting animals can be interpreted as an unconscious personal conflict. Explosions will be a symbol of hostility. Spiders, octopuses and witches can be interpreted as dominant mothers. Giants and gorrillas as dominant fathers.

Responses as "a cockroach trampled on a bathroom floor" or "the corpse of a slapped mosquito on white wallpaper" belong definitely to the group of negative responses.

A large number of negative responses will indicate that the test person is frustrated, angry, aggressive and potentially violent. A very high number of positive responses can be interpreted thus that the person is submissive, timid and is suffering from a martyr complex. To be normal will be a balancing act on a tightrope.

An ink blot that resembles a female sexual organ, an orchid or a  microscopic invertebrates An ink blot, resembling two seahorses kissing
Left: An ink blot that resembles a female sexual organ, an orchid or a microscopic invertebrates.
Right: An ink blot, resembling two seahorses kissing.

The blots are often symmetrical, and it opens up interpretations inspired by the animal world, which a test person can not get very bad away with.

They may resemble two seahorses, speaking with each other, perhaps kissing.

A large number of sexual responses will indicate schizophrenia. A total absence of sexual interpretations will also be unusual, at least if the applicant is a man. As it is said that men think about sex up to 50 times each day.

See link at the top to "The Ten Rorchach Card".

Blękklat kunst 4 Blękklat kunst 3 Blękklat kunst af Josh Fisher Blękklat kunst 2 Ink blots have evolved into a new direction within visual art. Blot number 3 was made by Josh Fisher. For the other images, unfortunately I can not find the artists.

This article is a contribution to the debate on personality tests and Dalum Hjallese Debate Club assumes no liability for a use of the article in real life.
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